BURIAL AND DEATH
Long ago, traditional burial practices were community affairs. If a person died, all people in the neighborhood and all relatives paid a last visit or attended the burial. Everyone in the community strictly followed regulations regarding burial. There were three classifications of burial in the olden times: the burial of the rich, the poor and the young.
If a young boy or a girl died in the morning, he or she was immediately buried in the afternoon near the parent’s residence.
If an old man died in the community, the old folks gathered together to discuss about the manner of burial for the dead person. First of all they would determine the person’s status in the community: whether rich or poor. If he is a poor person they performed the appropriate ceremonies. Usually, two pigs: a male and a female were used as the ritual animals.
If a poor man died, he was buried underground or interred at the burial cave, but mostly all who died of old age were placed at the cave. A poor man’s funeral is very simple. The relatives mourn for three to six days and after the mourning period the family went to the river to take a bath. On the next day, they were free to go back to their usual activities.
If a rich person died, all the old folks would attend the burial. Prior to the burial, they met among themselves to agree on the length of time before the body was interred. A person who has performed the highest cañao would require at least eight days of mummification. They made the coffin for the dead and followed strictly the regulations regarding death and burial. A chair was made for the dead person on which he was seated and tied to keep him in position. A fire was kept constantly burning to dry the body up. They also made sure that no flies alighted on the body.
Before they brought the body out of the house, the close relatives washed the face of the deceased. All the sons and daughters gave tapey and other presents to their parent so that when they reached the other world he might havegone ahead to this world.
The deceased is wrapped with bandala (death blanket for the baknang), tying it on both sides so that the body would be easily carried to the burial place. Before the burial, the mambunong got some tapuy and asked the dead to drink before he spoke to him in order to ask confirmation regarding the burial place. It usually happened that the spirit of the dead entered a living person, usually a close relative, called the mandopo (medium)and through this person, the dead made known his wishes regarding the manner and the place of his burial.
One man with a rich man’s burial is the mummy identified as Bartazan Saclet found at the cave of Leyang, Paykek, Kapangan. When Baltazan Saclet was still living he told his children: to make a casket and tomb for him and he said to his children: “You know children I am requesting you this because I want to see my resting place before I die and my beautiful casket will be remembered from generation to generation by marking my tomb with broken jars and white jars.” He was remembered as a baknang.
After the burial of the deceased, the relatives continued their mourning (paniyao) until the mambunong told them to go out and visit their relatives.
The period of mourning should be regulated by the people of the community. Padong (sign not to enter residence of somebody who is mourning) were put up. Sign of mourning for a widower was never cutting his hair, for a period of one year after his wife’s death.
Parental arrangements were commonly practiced among the people. This was called the Kaising. Parents arrive at an agreement. In performing marriage among the rich, first of all, they performed the secyab where twp pigs; a male and a female were butchered. The pigs were killed then placed over the fire to burn the hair. Then, these were washed then butchered. The mambunong examined the bile for omens. If he reads good omen from the bile, cows or carabaos were butchered to welcome good omen. Then the mambunong led the prayer blessing the husband and wife to have long lives and to be successful in any of their future endeavors together.
The people were given a share of food and meat which were distributed to everyone. When night time comes, the mambunong summoned the husband and wife inside the house and put them in bed and blessed them, then left them in the private room. After all the ceremonies the husband and wife were subjected to three-day ngilin (mourning). After three days of ngilin, the mambunong escorted them to the river and blessed them by sprinkling water over them saying. “In the name of Kabunian you will be washed by these waters from sin and you will begin your new life to come.”
The marriage of a poor man is very simple; the male presented himself at the house of the woman with his parents who asked the parents of the girl if they would accept their son. If the parents and their children both agree to the marriage proposal, a date was set for the marriage ceremonies. A pig was butchered during the wedding. After the ceremonies the people recited baclew for marriage. First of all, the parents of the man will sing his baclew and say: “I thank you for accepting my son as a husband of your daughter and I hope you will count him as your real son and that you will teach him about any work regarding family life. He is a poor man but he is strong and wise.” The parent of the girl answers. “As long as in the side of the woman, I accept any man who would love my daughter and it happened that your children are of one heart, one mind and one body. I believe it is the will of God that they will be together forever and ever.”
GODS, GODDESSES AND THE MAMBUNONG
In the performance of cañaos, the following gods and goddesses were implored:
The mambunong was the person who had the sole authority to perform the religious rituals involved in each type of cañao.
The following is an account of how a person becomes a mambunong.
HOW A PERSON BECAME A MAMBUNONG
Before a person acquired his authority to become a mambunong, he experiences an unusual dream. For example, if a person dreamt that he defeated a snake barehanded, he was privilege to perform sangbo in preparation to his becoming a mambunong. A mambunong was believed to have been helped by a supernatural being in acquiring his power.
The mambunong were classified into the following groups: those who perform the peshit, those who perform the sangbo, and another group is the mambate. The mambunongs were expected to perform the different rituals from the simplest ones to the more complicated ones.
Aside from the mambunong, there was also a mansip-ok; a fortune teller and at the same time the one who pointed out the causes of the people’s sickness.
BELIEF CONCERNING THE MOON AND STARS
Certain stars and group of stars served as important guides for the people for certain activities. The moon was the reference in counting the days and the months. From the first quarter until the last quarter constituted one month. Twelve full moon cycles constituted one year. Certain phases of the moon indicated omens. If a baby was born during a full moon, this was an omen presagin richness in the future or leadership in the community as well as respect from the people.
When the sinapon big dipper went down into the sea and leveled with the big ocean, the people went fishing or hunting for it was sure that they would have a big catch of fish or game, Other significant stare were liwan, the group of stars pointing the north the batacagan morning star.
In the early times, people made use of shrubs, tree barks and leaves for medicine, Cuts and wounds were applied with alot-ot vines. The leaves were pounded with a piece of wood until it was soft. This was placed on top of the wound which stopped the bleeding and protected top of the wound which stopped the bleeding and protected the wound from infection. Even today, this method is still extensively used. Gitol is a ginger-like plant which emits a strong odor. This was used for cure of snake bites and centipede bites. The bile of a snake was used to cure stomach ulcers or any pain in the stomach.
The baclew (Ibaloi) or the day-eng (kankana-ey) is a general term which refer to the ballads sang during different occasions. The Baclew or day-eng was sung as alibaby (friendly conversation) during a peshit. The people who can recite the day-eng or bac-lew were the old folks who understood the meaning which was profuse with idiomatic expressions. The genealogy of the host was traded, other important topics regarding the person who gave the cañao were sung. Blessings to become rich so that he would host a cañao in the future, hopes for meeting again were expressed in the songs. The aboy was sung to impress the person who hosted songs. The aboy was sung to impress the person who hosted the cañao.
There was also a baclew for the dead, ebayos or degoo were last sentiments for the dead were expressed. Likewise the good deeds which were significant to the people of the place or to his family were recounted.